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Plotter-Cutter vs Laser Cutter

Jun 14 '13 8 Last Comment
heterarch
Jun 14, 13 2:20 pm

I'm looking for any of you out there who have thought at all about this choice..  

I work at a Limestone fabricator (archy bkgd), and we do a lot of pattern cutting on 1mm polystyrene sheets, which are used by the guys in the mill for making sure the stone is cut to proper size and detail.  We currently (antiquatedly) print on paper, staple the paper print and polystyrene down, and cut them by hand, as well as use marker to mark up various details and info on them.  A plotter-cutter could theoretically do both the printing and cutting, but I don't have any experience with them, and I don't believe they can handle the 1mm thick plastic we use.  A laser cutter could definitely handle the material, but would have to "toast" the plastic surface for the drawn on info... 

Anyone have any experience that can lead to a good comparison here?  

 

gruen
Jun 14, 13 8:24 pm

Contact some manufacturers of CNC equipment and ask if their stuff will cut your material. Will styrene cut w laser wo noxious fumes? I think plotter cutter is for vinyl sign cutting and is too weak for your application. You might need a CNC router. Wire cutter. EDM machine maybe??

heterarch
Jun 17, 13 7:14 am

gruen, a thicker polystyrene would probably be a problem, with high quality cutting AND with noxious fumes, but I think (emphasize think) that the 1mm thick stuff we use shouldn't be much of a problem.  We're going to have samples of our material sent to the manufacturers we're seriously considering to have it tested before we commit to anything, of course.

As for the plotter cutter, that is also my understanding of the equipment.  However, I've been told that at least 1 of our competitors uses this equipment, and for the same use.  

As we would only use whichever equipment we decide on for the one application of 1mm thick polystyrene, a router (as much fun as it would be) is probably not very sensible...  I hadn't thought of a wire cutter or EDM, but a wire cutter would be more for the thick, foam type polystyrene, right?

gruen
Jun 17, 13 9:35 am

1mm is very thin. If laser does not emit poison fumes then its a good option. The plotter cutter is probably cheaper to run if it can cut it. EDM might be just for metal? Not sure.

alexus
Sep 2, 13 10:56 am

hey we do this for living (cutting) both laser and plotter will handle 1mm film easy!
Once you get to 2.5-3mm range then plotter will start giving you trouble with miss cuts, partial cuts etc. Also as mentioned earlier material may vary even though thickness is the same. For office use i would recommend plotter,  for special cases you ca go with laser but only if you really need it (its is expansive to maintain) Also edgine is just fine with 1mm polu film on laser (We have 100W CO2 i can cut it ~ 100-200mms @ 50W) 

natematt
Sep 2, 13 11:58 am

you could always get a knife cutter. Probably more expensive though.

alexus
Sep 2, 13 12:32 pm

modern plotters already have knifes in them :) at lease those that actually do shapes rather then just a straight roll cutting. And they are not that expensive, unit on china can range $4-8k depending on requirements. Large format Xerox Laser Printer is $16k :) so that makes plotter a cheap device lol

natematt
Sep 2, 13 12:42 pm

I was suggesting something like a zund. (if that knife comment was directed at me haha)

alexus
Sep 2, 13 12:51 pm

i just reply to last message :) Zund seams to be a big production grade machine. We do commercial cutting cervices but we never had a need for something as large as that :)

We have 6' roll through cutter for shapes

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